Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Saving Sabah's forests via certification

Kota Kinabalu: Forests impact our daily lives in more ways than we can imagine. Most, if not all of our daily activities, involve products and services from the forests.

Paper comes from trees, and according to the Swedish Forest Industries Federation, the global average for paper consumption is about 57kg per person annually.

Sadly, despite our high dependency on forests, we tend to take them for granted. Over the past 50 years, we have lost about half of the world's original forest cover, mainly due to irresponsible extraction of its resources and conversion of forested land to other uses.

Not many are aware that forests contribute to local temperature regulation and soil retention. Well-managed forests also act as buffers in the case of future climate change events.

Regulating temperature prevents us from undergoing extreme weather changes because trees absorb heat and release moisture into the atmosphere.

This then condenses as rain and cools the earth's surface. It is also important to retain topsoil, the outermost layer of the earth, as it contains the nutrients needed by plants. While this layer measures less than a foot deep, it takes Mother Nature between 100 to 500 years to create just an inch of topsoil.

All is not lost yet

The degradation of forests can be minimised by managing them responsibly according to credible forest management standards, such as those of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).

Founded in 1993 by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and other parties concerned about accelerating deforestation, environmental degradation, and social exclusion, the FSC is an independent and not-for-profit organisation that promotes responsible forest management.

Over the past 20 years, the organisation has earned a reputation as the most credible forest certification scheme, with more than 180,000,000 hectares of forest around the world certified to its standards and guaranteed to be managed sustainably.

The benefits of the FSC certification for well-managed forests include more responsible logging, retention of land under natural forest cover, management and monitoring of High Conservation Value (HCV) areas, independent auditing and monitoring, and greater stakeholder participation.

On the other hand, non-certified forest reserves face a higher risk of degradation, degazettement, and conversion to non-forest land use. These will lead to loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services, amongst other things.

It was therefore a big win for conservation in May 2015 when four forest reserves managed by Sabah Forest Department (SFD) were certified as well-managed forests by the FSC. With a combined size of 155,440 hectares, these forest reserves form about 10pc of protected forests in Sabah.

There are also other protection forest reserves in Sabah that have received FSC certification in the previous years and they total up to 441,264 hectares. Good management of protected areas is important to conserve biodiversity which is a primary aim.

Loss of biodiversity is a global problem and of particular concern in Southeast Asia. However, Sabah is progressive and strives to make a difference with the credible certification of its protection forests by SFD.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: Saving Sabah’s forests through certification